Yanqing is calling …
ith the Beijing Winter Olympics just around the corner, Haute caught up with two Canadian downhill hopefuls during some downtime in their training schedules. Brodie Seger, from the North Shore, and Broderick Thompson, from Whistler, spoke to Haute’s winter sports correspondent Jamie Clarke about their upcoming Olympic adventure.
75 km northwest of Beijing is Yanqing — hot springs, national parks, ski resorts, and the Badaling section of the Great Wall. Yanqing’s Olympic venues will stage the alpine skiing events as well bobsled, luge, and skeleton.
JC: Brodie, you’ve been training on glaciers during the summer to get some fast snow And you were describing your early morning commute. Tell us about that.
BS: Yeah, it’s a bit of a commute! The early morning load at Saas-Fee [in Switzerland] starts at about 6:20am on a tram that goes all the way up to just below the glacier. Then you go through a tunnel and get onto a train to the top. We were getting up at 5am in pitch black and cramming into a tram. But you get a lot of beautiful mornings up there when the sun rises. You see the sun come up and think — I shouldn’t complain too much.
JC: how did you get started in the sport?
BS: It starts as a passion for skiing. At 9 or 10 I had success off the bat in racing, and it snowballed into all this. Here we are!
JC: What’s your gut feel about making the Olympic team?
BS: It’s funny in our sport. There’s not one Olympic trial event where you might qualify. Nothing is a given and there’s no announcement until right before the Olympics. We have the opportunity to qualify in every race and we’re racing just a few weeks before we depart for China. Nothing is a given and I’m going to treat it that way and I’ve gotta stay hungry, I’m still quite focused on the goals I have in the World Cup level. I just managed to break into the Top 30 in SuperG last year. I haven’t quite made it in downhill yet but that’s a huge goal for me.
JC: What do you know about the Olympic downhill course at Yanqing?
BS: It’s definitely going to be technical — a few parts are quite steep! I’ve heard it’s been carved out of the mountain and cut through the trees. The second half of the course goes into a ravine and gets kinda dark. Most of what I’ve heard tells me it’s pretty gnarly. But that excites me! I think it plays to the strengths of my skill set and having a venue that’s brand new to everyone — it means anything can happen.
JC: What’s your fave piece of gear? Any recommendations?
BS: I love my Fitline daily nutrition products and my Atomic skis. I couldn’t live without Bollé goggles with Phantom lens technology. They really help with depth perception when you’re moving at high speed.
JC: Broderick, how did you get started in the sport?
BT: I have a kindergarten drawing of myself winning an Olympic medal … but in figure skating, which is the funny part. I started skating when I was three or four years old. I had plans from a young age to be a ski racer. But you don’t start until you’re 11 or 12. Being from Whistler, skiing was the natural path.
JC: How did skating make you a better skier?
BT: The edging for sure. Giving energy in the blades to propel yourself forward. I put on the long skis and I’m still very good with edging, and skating input a lot of that flow which is what people see in my style. I was really bad at the artistic side of skating!
JC: Have you qualified for Beijing?
BT: I still need to qualify. Our first race is Lake Louise and you need to have Top 30 results in the World Cup. I feel really good where my skiing is since my injury. Been back in the Top 30 for the last few races. Nothing is for sure.
JC: What are your ambitions for Beijing?
BT: Because it’s a new run and a new track, and everyone is seeing it for the first time, it’s a great opportunity for us as Canadians. We don’t get to see European hills as much, so when the Olympics are in Europe the more experienced skiers have an advantage. In Beijing, anything is possible. I’m skiing fast. If I can do my best the results will be there. If you can get inside the top 10, top 15, the podium is definitely within reach.
JC: Was China on your bucket list?
BT: I’m excited to go to China. Definitely on the bucket list. The Great Wall is something I’m interested in walking on. I like old history and seeing that is really interesting to me. I’ve watched a lot of cooking shows over the years. So Peking Duck is on the list.
JC: Fave gear for the top of the mountain in Beijing?
BT: The Helly Hansen layering system — everything just works so well together from the ski socks to the puffy jackets. You can kit yourself out in Helly Hansen. Even if you’re not going skiing, it’s nice to be warm!